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How Cultures Vary in Tipping in the Modern Era and How Medium Tipping Works

Tipping has been around since the money existed. It is a show of appreciation for almost all cultures, however, there are major differences in cultural approaches.

how tipping works for cultures

Even in the modern era, where everything has transformed into globalization and more like Americanization, the tipping culture varies rather dramatically. Interestingly, tipping for just paying has become a new norm. Who’d knew. Source: DelishWith the digital age, the nature of tipping has changed significantly starting from stores to Uber, YouTube, and Starbucks, and now, Medium.

In this story, we will delve into:

  • How cultures around the globe have varying approaches to tipping.

  • How the digital age changed the tipping culture.

  • How Medium tipping works — as a bonus for Medium writers.

The Tipping Dilemma: An International Perspective

Tipping, a seemingly simple act of gratitude, carries intricate layers of meaning across the globe.

how tipping works for cultures variety

As travelers embark on journeys to distant lands, it’s essential to comprehend the varied tipping cultures that reflect the heart and soul of each country.

In this exploration of tipping norms, we dive into the diverse practices of tipping in countries like the USA, China, Turkey, France, Italy, and the UAE, and uncover the cultural values that underpin these customs.

United States — The Land of Gratuity

In the United States, tipping is more than a customary practice; it’s an institution.

how tipping works for cultures usa
Source: The Independent

With a service-driven economy, generous tipping is encouraged as a way to appreciate hard work and dedication. Waitstaff, bartenders, and service providers often depend on tips as a substantial part of their income. Here, the percentage-based tipping culture has set the standard at 15–20% of the total bill.

China — The No-Tipping Nation

China has a vastly different approach to tipping. Tipping is not traditional in Chinese culture. In fact, it is often considered rude or awkward.

how tipping works for cultures china
Source: The Helpful Panda

The emphasis here is on the quality of service rather than monetary rewards. While tipping may be welcomed in high-end hotels and restaurants, it’s not a widespread practice.

Chinese service providers aim to exceed expectations regardless of tips.

Turkey — The Intersection of Generosity and Tradition

Turkey’s tipping culture lies at the intersection of tradition and generosity.

how tipping works for cultures turkey
Source: Enjoy Turkiye

It’s customary to tip in restaurants, cafes, and even barbershops. A small tip is a gesture of respect and appreciation. Tipping is not just about the money; it signifies the value of personal connections and trust in Turkish society.

France and Italy — Where Service Is an Art Form

France and Italy boast a rich culinary tradition where dining is a sensory journey.

how tipping works for cultures italy
Source: Travel + Leisure

In these countries, the service is regarded as an art form. Tipping is expected in restaurants and cafes. It’s a way to acknowledge the skill and dedication of the service staff. The cultural importance of the dining experience underlines the significance of tipping in these regions.

UAE — The Land of Service Excellence

The United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai, is known for its world-class service.

how tipping works for cultures uae
Source: Visit Dubai

The culture of tipping in the UAE is an expression of gratitude and respect for the impeccable service provided.

Tipping is customary and appreciated in hotels, restaurants, and various service-oriented sectors. It reflects the Emirati emphasis on hospitality and service excellence.

Tipping Customs: A Reflection of Cultural Values

In each of these countries, tipping practices are a reflection of the respective cultural values. The perception of gratitude, service excellence, and social norms determines the etiquette around tipping.

While some nations adhere to high percentage-based gratuities, others find their value in non-monetary gestures of appreciation.

Understanding these nuanced tipping customs is not only a practical necessity for travelers but also a delightful way to explore the rich tapestry of global cultures.

A World of Gratitude

As we traverse through diverse tipping customs across the globe, we realize that gratitude comes in many forms.

While some cultures express it through the generosity of their tips, others find it in the subtleties of their service.

Tipping cultures, like the people who practice them, are unique and ever-evolving, and they beautifully represent the rich diversity of our interconnected world.

How the Digital Age Transformed the Tipping Economy

Most of our money flows digitally today.

Most of the new businesses are also digital.

Therefore, the tipping economy also adopted this flow.

Online Platforms

YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and many more such as Medium have adopted tipping as an option to monetize and gain income for service providers or content creators.

how tipping works for cultures youtube tipping

This has created excitement since content creators have the right reasons to work independently and boost their income with their rising popularity and the rich content they create.

POS Systems for Physical Businesses

Starbucks can be the best example of this application. The moment you make your payment, you are given the choice to add a tip or not when the barista is looking into your eyes.

how tipping works for cultures starbucks tipping
Seattle Times

According to NY Post:

In Fall of 2022, the coffee giant introduced an option to add gratuity when paying by card. Card readers now bear digital buttons to tip $1, $2, $5, a custom amount or nothing. Customers are roasting at the pressure to give a gratuity.
“I’m a cheap ass and I didn’t tip,” Laura Gonzalez, a 42-year-old paralegal visiting from San Antonio, Texas, told The Post. She grabbed a coffee at a Times Square Starbucks on Thursday and declined to tip on the keypad. “It was super awkward,” she said.

However, interestingly, Starbucks applies this in the US, but not in other countries such as Turkey.

In Turkiye, you are not allowed to tip digitally and if you want to tip, you need to put the physical money into the physical tip box.

The barista isn’t allowed to touch the tip. What a change of mindset.

Semi-Physical Businesses

Ride-sharing and food delivery services such as Uber, Lyft and Instacart have all adopted the tipping culture.

gig economy tipping how tipping works for cultures

As independent partners work with these services, a significant share of their income comes through tipping digitally and this has become mostly a global action in common for all countries.


All in all, tipping makes a big difference for people around the world whether it is for physical or digital businesses.

It is a hidden and huge part of the global economy in which millions of people make a living. Times change, and this applies to the tipping culture as well.

As globalization and digitization become more spread out, a global culture of tipping can be foreseen since it is a value companies gain while not sacrificing their own business profits and it is a way for customers to appreciate the businesses when they create high value.

Tipping works for all.


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